Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Yelp Stinks

After having a horrid experience at a bike repair place called Mike The Bike I decided to write as unbiased a  review as I could and put it on Yelp. I then couldn't find the review! Yelp has a filter feature where they decide to filter certain reviews that don't make it into the overall ratings. If anyone wants to read them they have to press a tiny button at the very bottom of the page then use a screen captcha. For Mike The Bike he had high ratings based on six reviews. After pressing the filter (or, more appropriately, unfilter, button) 12 very negative reviews show up (and one okay one)! Those reviews don't make it into the ratings system. This is rather unfortunate as I have now heard of two very negative dealings with Mike the Bike since my situation. If the reviews were posted honestly perhaps these situations could be avoided. I was only aware of this filter once I couldn't find my review. Two business owners have told me that Yelp approached them to buy ads and that would increase their ratings.
Feeling weird about posting a  negative review I thought I'd even things out by then writing  a positive review for Hot-n-Dog as I love the place, I know the owner, but just love what he's doing anyways, and no one has written about the changes that have happened to the place on Yelp. It's had very few reviews and, wouldn't you know it? It got filtered.
Further nastiness: I just got an automated e mail from Yelp highlighting such great  bike places as that 'cool guy' Mike The Bike.
My reviews are below.

Mike The Bike, Kensington Market, Toronto
This shop is known for inexpensively using recycled materials and it can be slipshod. Granted my old bike was a beater. I once brought it in there for gear repair, but the gears still never worked quite right. A year or so later, when my old bike went kablooey while shifting gears, I brought it back in again. The friendly employees (not Mike) looked at the bike and texted me a couple of days later  saying that it'd be better to just get 15 dollars trade-in as it was toast. I came in and accepted that agreement, but they couldn't find my bike as I needed the clip for my bike lock that was screwed on it, so they said they'd get it and get back to me. They never did. So I called and they said they'd find it and call me back. They never did.

I then came in with my new bike (Craigslist purchase, at the time Mike The Bike only had stuff like fixies for trade but they told me these fixies don't have brakes, knowing how nasty Toronto cabs are on the streets,  I prefer safety). The back tire had blown out and I wanted to ask about that lock clip. It was just Mike The Bike in the shop. I reasonably mentioned (ie. I wasn't a prick about it)  how I had been in and then called about the lock clip and he lost it on me. He threw a cardboard box full of lock clips down and told me to find it and get out. My jaw dropped in shock, so he told me to not be a baby and pout. I tried explaining to him what happened but he didn't want to hear it and told me to be quiet each time. When he started yammering I told him that maybe he should be quiet (but not in an angry way, I didn't lash out at him once). "This is my shop!" he said.  He told me that I was all hung up on an 80 cent part. I told him that I don't know which part it was in the box. "It's your bike!" I basically said that, yes, but this is one of many things in a box, I am not a bike expert, I am naive, I just wanted the part. When other customers came in he talked about me to them and tried to make me look like some sort of goof/idiot and laid on a smarmy niceness extra thick to them. He was really mind-fucking me, I'd been going there for two years and it was always a reasonable interaction before that. I wound up just grabbing some random lockclip from the box because I didn't know what was what. He told me that they aren't responsible for parts left behind on trades, yet it was only near the end of this-uh-altercation that I was finally allowed to finish my sentences and explain that it wasn't yet a trade when I originally asked for my lockclip.

However I still had 15 dollars trade. He agreed to fix my bike. I was shaking by this point. He also said, "I'm doing you a favour" in regards to the 15 dollar trade-in. I haven't heard someone pull that phrase on me since I washed dishes for the guy who's now head chef at The Atlantic. I asked him how much extra would it cost and how long it would take. He shook my hand and told me not to worry, "You've had a bad day." I don't know if he was being sarcastic or what. He sent me on my way without even so much as an invoice so I was freaked that I might not see my bike again. I told some people about what happened and it turns out that I am definitely  not the only one to have had troubled interactions with Mike The Bike.

I came back a few days later with a friend (as my casual muscle) and the nice employee told me that it wasn't ready yet. The next day it was. They said that they did a tune up and replaced the back wheel. Mike The Bike proudly extorted how I came in for a lock piece and got all that for no charge!!!- not mentioning my 15 dollars in store credit, of course. Riding my bike an hour later I found that the replaced back tire was too big for my fender and was scraping it, the pedals made a funny noise and the chain kept repeatedly falling off. I did have a two week warranty but I finally knew now to take it to someone else. Why didn't I do that before? Why did I keep going back to Mike The Bike? Naivete? Stupidity? Masochism? The fact that my bike kept breaking down near Mike The Bike's shop? I don't know. But I have a nice bike now and I want it treated well.

The new bike repair man that I  took my bike to was shocked at Mike The Bike's fix-it job , walked me through how Mike screwed up and how it could deteriorate my bike. He got it riding smoothly (with a new, proper replacement  back tire) and safely for a price.
I hope that this learning experience has given me the maturity of knowing when to walk away from a situation.
Avoid Mike The Bike. That is, unless you enjoy mind-games and shoddy workmanship from a  real piece of work.

Hot N Dog, 216 Close Ave., Toronto
There's been big changes at Hot N Dog these past few months since cartoonist Keith Jones took over. Most immediately apparent is how unique this teeny spot looks! It's like entering a full colour comic book! Wildly bright signs and slogans and benches and crazy characters with word balloons, a big wooden airplane hanging from the ceiling. It ain't just a shop, it's a part of a magic land plunked down into Parkdale. Or maybe, unlike those pizza places that are so insecure they want to be Brooklyn (I want to give them a hug and tell them to be themselves), it is a natural part of Parkdale as it integrates itself into the hood feeding all those high school students down the block (weekday lunch time is the high traffic time). This is a mystical centre that needs to be cherished, Tee Oh can be disparate with its' wonderful places, we got to really nurture them. The dogs are dirt cheap, not teeny tiny, with full veg option, including the chili dog, a personal favourite. He has been experimenting with a mac n cheese dog as well. Not grilled or boiled but steamed. Tonnes of toppings, the rainbow sprinkles topping has been discontinued but he still has hickory sticks and much much more...he just got a juicer as a refreshing healthy option (try the beet/apple/carrot), perhaps it will counter-act the unhealthy options! Oh, there's nachos, as well! Keith sells his own comics here and plans to do a special Hot n Dog newspaper and has other wild plans as well. I really hope that this review doesn't get filtered like my Mike The Bike review did so that all can be in the know.

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